by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Tony Roberts,
In the AJC article of February 12, 2015, “New plan for failing schools,” a list of 141 “persistently failing schools” is described based on the College and Career Performance Index (CCRPI). Mentioned in the article is that “Two state-approved charter schools are on the list of low performers as well.”
As a follow-up, Greg Bluestein noted on the AJC political blog that some skeptics of the proposed Opportunity School District (OSD) were using the argument that because two schools on the list of failing schools were already under state oversight—“state charter schools”—it was indicative of the kind of job the state would do if charged with taking over schools.
This argument falls apart miserably when the truth about these and other charter schools in Georgia is known. (For clarification, I am speaking of “traditional, start-up charter schools” approved either by local school districts or the State Charter Schools Commission—not Charter Systems or College and Career Academies that are most always under the control of a local school board.)
First, “state charter” school is a misnomer as the state does not own or run charter schools. The state approves charter schools as do local school districts, but they are operated independently with their own board of directors and their own staff, budget, curriculum, and their own higher goals of academic achievement to which they are contractually obligated in their charter. (The AJC stated it correctly in its article: “state-approved” charter…) By “higher,” I mean at least higher either than the average of similar schools in their district or in the state, in some cases.
Second, charter schools that do not live up to their “promises” are closed—or should be. Sometimes this happens when their charter is not renewed at the end of their five-year contract. But the result is the same. Charter schools should never be considered as candidates for an OSD, because they already have built-in, rigorous “perform or close” provisions.
I would remind that state-approved charter schools are obligated to deliver these higher results on significantly fewer total dollars, with no district-provided facilities.
To all those critical of the proposed OSD, how would you feel about every school on the consistently “low-performing” list having its budget lowered to state-charter school funding levels, while having academic expectations raised above others while also entering a contractual obligation that the school can be closed in five-years if not successful? Does that sound better?
Dr. Tony Roberts is President & CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association
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